Archive for October, 2009

UMKC Architecture Students
October 30, 2009

Six first year students are going to design a retreat for me, a 10x10x10 cube. Yay! We had a meeting today and they gathered information from me as to what exactly my needs are.

The following is a message to them:

Here are the images I said I would post. I would like to add the following to our discussion of today. I do not like clutter and although I don’t want many possessions, I do end up with “stuff”. I mentioned that I want lots of shelf space but add this thought to your list… when I am in my space and look around, I do not want to see “stuff” very much at all. I want all those storage spaces to disappear visually. I said that I had open shelving at home and my work space in my studio has open shelving… maybe that is why I want my retreat to not have that. I do need one bank of open shelving in my immediate work space to set pots and tools when working. I need the 5 bags of clay to be on the bottom and enough room to set 10-20 pots of different sizes.

My studio is actually about 10 x 10

My kitchen…how I want it at home but not in my retreat. Less stuff to look at, please!

This is my favorite chair at home. Feet up…a must.

Thanks and good luck.

Chevy Truck
October 30, 2009

If you hopped on to see this post, scroll down to September 8, “My Chevy Truck”.

Lorna Meaden & Mark Peters at Red Star
October 30, 2009

Last weekend Red Star hosted one of our most informative and enjoyable workshops. Brought to us by the Potter’s Council, Lorna Meaden and Mark Peters demonstrated for three days. Potters from all over the country left Kansas City with dozens of ideas and great memories.

I had never met Mark before. As you can see, there is More Pottery in his head as well as to his right.

Mark makes some things by dropping them!

Here are a few little things he didn’t drop. Mark is perhaps the King of Facet. He made some lovely big pitchers, jars, and trays but they are in the bisque kiln right now and I didn’t get a picture. He puts demo videos on his website, just so you know!

This is my Great American Folk Art Chair.

This is Mark making a clay stamp from my Great American Folk Art Chair.

(the stamp made a good impression)

Red Star owner, Susan Hill, dropped in every day to say hello.

Lorna evoked plenty of “ooooh’s!” and as you can see, at least one “ah!” over the weekend.

Didn’t want you to miss this lovely little scoop that she made from wheel thrown parts.

Just a girl and her can, no?

To Write Or Not To Write…that is the question.
October 26, 2009

Remember these pitchers?

Well, Debbie Wald left a comment daring me not to write on them.

I made some more. They are made out of a stoneware that is not smooooth like the first bunch. “Ruff”!


I put slip on them.

I put more slip on them.

Do you dare me not to write on these? I dunno if I can keep my tool off! Maybe I can leave them blank….what if I just wrote on them… a little? Just a bit. A wee bit? I think I have six of them now. I’m leaving for the studio now. I’ll try my best not to wr……

Mmmmm…Warm Crackers…
October 25, 2009

I recently acquired what was my mother’s cracker warmer. “What?”, you say, “Cracker warmer?” Well, I thought everyone grew up eating warm, buttery crackers with mom’s chili and vegetable stew. Silly me. While cooking several meals lately I kept hearing from my guests, “What’s that? Warm crackers? Never heard of such a thing!” Each person was skeptical, to say the least, until they partook in the warm, buttery goodness. And silly you, if you ever have an opportunity to obtain a cracker warmer and don’t take advantage. Here’s how it goes…(this will change your life)

I am guessing that this was acquired by my mom during the 1960’s. It simply plugs in to an outlet. No “on” switch, no “off” switch, no temperature control. Perhaps one reason it has lasted so long.

There are three pages of instructions for this major home appliance. Oh wait…I mean three instructions:
1. Plug in 2. Put in crackers 3. After eating crackers…unplug

This butter dish was made by Audrey Jones, a potter in Washington D.C.

I made this small plate last year by altering a slab and adding a foot ring to the bottom. You have learned from an earlier post that I like to give clay a lil’ poke. Did you know that I like to poke high temperature wire into clay? Can you see the wee loops?

mmmm…warm, buttery goodness.

All I need now is a great butter knife. Perhaps I should make one?

I am not exaggerating when I propose that your soon-to-come winter will be hugely enhanced by the addition of warm crackers. It’s right up there with these winter treats: putting on warm socks and jeans right from the dryer, deep claw foot bath tubs, warm cocoa…(made for you by someone else), and fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies. Hey! Wait a minute…”cracker warmer”, “fresh out of the oven… ” IT’S A COOKIE WARMER!!! …gotta go.

Plethora of Pitchers
October 6, 2009

Tucked four pitchers in the damp box tonight. They took me forrrrever to make and I’m only half done! Tomorrow I’ll apply a brown and a porcelain slip. When that dries a bit, I’ll carve in my narrative and “toss” on a few chairs for good measure. I’ll make more pitchers with a darker stoneware and throw a bunch of tumblers for three piece sets. I’ll wrap up this lil’ project with shino, shino, shino glazes! Getting ready to apply to a fantastic shino show curated by Malcolm Davis.


I Learned Something…
October 1, 2009

Awhile back I made three vases, tulipieries. Vases for tulips. (I learned that word from my studio mate, Carolyn Summers, by the way) I threw wide, low cylinders without bottoms then altered the form to be a very narrow oval at the top (one inch wide and about an eight inch long opening) and two or three inches wide at the bottom. I attached the form, sometimes called an envelope vase, to a thin slab bottom. I used my narrative technique on the outside, glazed the inside, and fired them. And every one of them, all three…

…cracked. Huge cracks, big time. Look…

Now do you believe me?

Cracks happen in ceramics for lots of reasons. One of the first things to think about is how the kiln cooled. In this case the kiln cooled slowly so I knew that was not a problem. Another thing to think about is how the form was altered. I did move the walls of the cylinder in a lot to achieve the very narrow form. But I did it in a way that I felt comfortable with…it was done when the clay was still very soft, right off the wheel. I didn’t think there had been enough stressing to cause that major of cracking. But an obvious solution would be to not alter the form so much. I didn’t want to make that concession so I kept thinking. Wall thickness is another consideration for cracks. There is a lot of stress placed on pottery when it is subjected to such high temperatures, about 2300 degrees. Yes, the walls and bottoms of these forms were very thin. They were also quite even and I was not willing to give up that quality. I could have stopped here and made the walls a little thicker and altered the form a little less and been able to produce a good looking vase. But that was not what I wanted. “I want what I want, not what I need” I once heard a seven year old say when he got pajamas for Christmas. So… I kept thinking and then I did a really smart thing…I ran all this by Bowie. He suggested that it could have happened because the inside was glazed and the outside was not. That made sense. Glaze on just one side of a very thin wall would create extra stress. So I should just glaze the outside of the vase, too, right? Nooooo! I want what I want, remember. It seemed to me that I was using what potters call a tight glaze. Very strong, dense…hard. So I decided to try a different glaze for the liner. I chose a shino and look what I got…a nice vase and a perk!


The perk is that with a shino glaze, the soda ash migrates through the wall of the clay and shows up on the other side. In this case, it became visible in my carved lines. Cool!


So was the cracking caused by the use of a too tight glaze? Or did it happen because a very thin walled form was highly altered and glazed with a very tight glaze and fired on a Tuesday? The Combo Plate!